Text of Audio Interviews
A: We finally got to Speicher and
it was funny because as soon as we got to the gate it stopped
raining. I'm soaking wet, I'm really uncomfortable. I felt kind
of safe now so I kind of let my shoulders down and there's this
guy at the gate and he says, "Welcome home, welcome home,"
and it kind of hit me. Okay, we're going to be here for a while.
A Rodriguez B: I had to share a small container with two other
soldiers. There were three of us. It was actually, I want to
say, maybe ten by twenty, maybe not even that. At first we had
no hot water so we were taking showers in really cold water.
It's not very comfortable, it makes for a quick shower. Once
we got there though thank God that we're a maintenance company.
We had people that could work on that stuff and got the hot water
going pretty fast.
The chow hall, they never ran out
of chicken, I didn't see one chicken in Iraq but they always
seemed to have chicken at the chow hall. I can't complain about
the food, we did have to eat MREs for a while. The MREs kind
of got old and it actually led me to eat some Iraqi food, and
it was on Saddam's birthday. We were on this detail, watching
these Iraqis tearing down this building and cleaning it. They
were eating some chicken with pita bread and some vegetables
and they invited me over and so I said, why not. I tasted some
of their food, I thought it was a good deal. Needless to say,
the next day I was really sick. I should have just stuck to the
A Rodriguez C: I knew one of the soldiers we lost. When we received
the word it hit pretty hard. I kind of buried it. I didn't show
too many emotions at first, but I can tell you when I went to
bed that night I buried my face in the pillow and then the kind
of, the fear kind of set in. It was just, I didn't want to go
back on the road at all. It was a mixture of, I had just gone
on leave. I had just seen my family again and to come back and
have something like that happen, it was really scary. After that
I would show my feelings a lot more, you know, when I had a friend
go out on the road or when I went out on the road because the
reality had just happened; you know it's real. I'd have to say
prior to that I wasn't so much showing my feelings towards another
soldier. After that I was more of a hug giver. I'd give you a
hug so I think it really kind of changed me in that way. It really
angered me. You tend to kind of want to take your anger out towards
somebody or focus it on something and I did have some anger issues
towards the Iraqis and it took me a while to kind of get over
that. To realize, "look it's not them, it's insurgency.
It's something else," and then you start thinking what did
we just lose our soldiers to? What are we doing here? Why? But
then it boils down to: we're soldiers, we joined the guard, we
know what the consequences could be, we're serving our country.
You're proud and it's part of the package.
Rodriguez A: Well, when he first joined he told him, I'm
going to be a soldier. And my son kind of understood, and the
little one was too young. But when he was deployed, he told him
he was going to be gone for a while and that he needed to go
help the people in Iraq. And my son was, I think he was still
young to get the big picture, but once my husband was over there
I remember he came home one day from school and he was telling
me that somebody at school had told him that soldiers in Iraq
die, so he was afraid about it. He said, "Is my daddy going
to die?" And I explained to him and I said, well there's
different jobs that people do in the Army. Some people are out
there actually fighting, other people are just helping them by
working, by fixing their weapons, or doing different things.
I told him, there's nurses, there's doctors, there's all kinds
of things. I said, your dad is not one of the people that are
fighting, he's helping by fixing weapons so you don't have to
worry about that he's safe right now. But he would see it on
the news too, and he would ask me if that was where daddy was
and I'd be like, no, it's kind of far away from where he is.
Things can happen, but he's safe right now. So that's how we
kind of dealt with that.
B: It's like we were just getting used to not worrying as
much and then that happened and it's like your back to, like,
the first day. You worry about it and you worry about the way
he was feeling because he was very down and he was scared again,
as he was at first, of being there because he said, you never
know. You know every time I go on a mission it's a risk you take.
C: I think we got to a point where we didn't agree with what
was going on over there, but we understood why he was over there
and how he was helping with what he was doing, so we tried to
support that. I didn't feel bitter about it and at the end you
kind of feel like we're fighting for a lost cause, but now we
talk about it and we definitely support what the troops go and
do, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we support the decisions
that are being made for them.
There were a number of buildings that were burning, fires were
almost impossible to put out because there was no water pressure
in the town anywhere. So you had a smoke-filled environment that
you were traveling in and you would have a lot of spots where
it would be dry and then there would be water maybe four to six
feet deep and then it would be dry again. So you were going from
land to water, land to water, which made it very difficult for
boats to traverse most of the areas there where there were people
that were trapped. The temperatures would range in the day between
ninety and a hundred and five, at night rarely did it get below
about eighty degrees so it made it challenging to even sleep
at night and you constantly had the combination of the stench
from the water from the decaying animals, you had the smell of
the burning buildings kind of all mixed into this constant haze
that hovered over the city.
I don't think there was a single situation where we had ill-dealings
or situations between civilians and the military personnel. They
were grateful we were there. They sometimes were disappointed
we had to tell them that they could not bring their dog with
them or cat or something, because they're close, they're animals,
and that's kind of all they had, but we had no facilities to
care for the animals so it was just something out of the realm
of possibility for us. That was the only thing we saw that was
maybe somewhat negative toward the military. There was one gentleman
who refused to go, we probably spent an hour trying to talk him
into going. He finally refused so we drove off and left him there.
There was a Kansas City news reporter that had ridden with us
that day, she wrote an article that night, it was in the Kansas
City paper the next day and this man's son happened to live in
Kansas City, saw it, had not heard from his father, didn't know
the situation, so he got a hold of me said, "Listen I'm
his son, I've got Power of Attorney, I want you to go visit (indecipherable).
So we drove back there to remove him and he came out with his
bags and said he was ready to go he said, "Well I stayed
one night alone and that's all I want to stay?" so we didn't
have to physically move him. It was just ironic that had that
sequence of events happened we would have never came back and
he probably would have perished. So sometimes having the press
on board isn't all bad.
I do remember first somebody saying, "Well it's a clear
day," and I said, "Boy, that's really odd, how in the
world can an aircraft fly into a building in New York on a clear
day, that's really strange." It didn't cross my mind that
it could have been an airliner. I thought well, it was some sort
of a private airplane that was lost or disoriented or something
like that. Then, as I was driving back to the office getting
ready to head downtown, more and more started coming in about
the potential for a terror attack and something like that. Well,
when I came into the office, everyone was perched around my TV
watching the events. The thing I'll always remember was, my mind
was on other things, not that, and so I was getting ready to
go on and do my thing and I was in a little bit of a hurry. And
I kind of got caught up in a few things here, as I was trying
to get out the door, and then that second one hit. And then that
convinced me that maybe something was going on. And so I hung
around a bit and then it wasn't too long after that when the
building came down. So it was at that moment then I said, "Well,
I need to stay here."
We decided we obviously need to update security around here so
I remember us calling the department of roads and going out and
finding every jersey barrier that we could because that's what
we use to ring the buildings here until we had fences in. I remember
there were discussions about whether or not we wanted to do something
at the capitol or not, decided no, they really didn't want, expect
to change the way they did business. I was a little bit concerned
about that at the time because I felt that if other states were
doing protective measures for their capitols that we would be
considered a weak point and this is where terrorists would turn
if they were indeed wide-spread throughout the U.S. One thing
I remember in particular was our security guys coming in and
saying two things. One is you should take the stars off the state
car so they can't tell you're a general riding around and number
two they wanted to provide security service for me at home. And
I thought about that. My first thought, well that's ridiculous.
But then my second thought was well, gee-whiz you know, this
nation really has no clue where these terrorists are or what
they have planned next and that was really an unnerving feeling.
The next important thing that I'll always remember is was starting
the airport duty where we put guards in the airports. This was
about a week and a half later, I get a call from the Governors
chief of staff and he says the President wants to put Guardsmen
at all the airports and so we need to organize to do that. Well,
then I found out we had ten airports in Nebraska we were going
to have to protect, which was one of the highest in the nation.
So then, we go down for a meeting with the governor. Then we
learned that in providing airport security there was actually
two elements of it. One of it that is the responsibility of the
airport, but the other part that's actually the responsibility
of the airline. So we'd have to work with both those parts. So
we talked about this for a while and then next thing you know
we have a press conference scheduled out at the airport and of
course I was the main speaker at that press conference. Afterwards,
sitting back and thinking, my gosh I came in at 6:30 in the morning
not knowing a thing about airport security and next thing you
know, middle of the day I'm giving a press conference on it.
And so that's how things were. Suddenly things that you would
never have thought about were suddenly very important.
A: The screening process that they had to hire interpreters
wasn't all that great. A lot of them were ex-patriots. Folks
that left Afghanistan, went to Pakistan or wherever and then
came back after the Taliban fell and were looking for work. They
had learned English to a level. First part is just dealing with
the terp. Maintaining a normal conversation as you work through
an interpreter with someone that doesn't speak any English. The
second piece is trying to actually use language that they understand.
An example is, as were out there working with these infantry
soldiers trying to set up a night observation post, developing
interlocking fields of fire. Well, to us that makes a lot of
sense, but you're telling your Afghan counterpart through the
interpreter to do that. And you have to watch a lot of body language
because you can tell when that Afghan leader was told through
the terp that we were looking at interlocking fields of fire,
you could tell he thought we were absolutely nuts. Could not
figure out what the heck we were talking about and finally he
came back to us and the question was, "Why do you want to
set our fields on fire?" So to try to talk in language that
the interpreter could actually translate for you was challenging
because the military, we have our own lingo.
Schuurmans B: The problem we've
got, especially in Afghanistan, it is so remote and isolated
and the infrastructure is so minimal, that if we pull out and
leave a vacuum or if we had never engaged Afghanistan in the
first place, that would have continued to be a training ground
for terrorists. A sanctuary, a haven, for every terrorist organization
in the world. You look at Afghans history, for centuries and
centuries that country has been conquered, but no ones ever held
it. The ability for any sort of group to come and go, to set
up camp and do whatever there was just unlimited. Until we were
able to do what we did. And now that we're there, it's even more
critical that in the heart of Asia we don't have another failed
state. That they are successful, that they develop their own
form of democracy and show that part of the world, that hey,
you know, it does work with a Muslim based culture and it can
work. There is no quick solution. We're not going to fix this
in a year or two. And the frustrating piece is to see all the
progress that was made be unraveled and disappear because we
chose not to stay there for the long haul.
C: One instance where our successes saved lives was in a
small village called Nic Naw (spelling?). They had a fairly large
group of children that wanted a school and we used commanders
emergency relief funding, that I had access to, and actually
got a school built for them. But in the process we provide them
the donations coming from home, the notebooks, pencils, volleyballs,
hats, whatever. We would do our humanitarian assistance drops
there fairly often and one day we had a convoy driving right
past Nick Naw. The kids ran out and stopped us because up ahead
in the road they knew there was an IED buried there. So how do
you measure success? To me that's a success.
I think I had a positive impact on a bunch of different levels.
I'd say obviously not only in country, in the locals that we
may have affected or in the terrorists that we detained or destroyed
or security. We helped with the brigade obviously. So obviously
it's a lasting effect in Iraq and it was obviously at our level;
I can't speak for other units. But also I think it's the soldiers
that were involved, I think it's their families. They know and
can touch and feel and explain and have the first-hand experience
of everything that they went through of sacrifices, being U.S.,
a soldier, freedom itself, seeing it grow and spawn inside of
a country. A lot of the media doesn't report that. That is happening
and a war that is successful and all the integral values that
go with that. That they can now spread to their communities and
hopefully with all the other soldiers that come back it will
be the same way. It'll only make our country better and stronger.
Text and Description
Text of Land Mine
"Fire in the hole!
Fire in the hole!
Light it up Dave".
(Voices are followed by the sound of six large explosions).
Description of video
Giant clouds of dust generated by the explosions and shaped like
mushrooms rise into the air, perhaps hundreds of feet.
Text of Bosnian Weapons
(Voices can not be translated. They speak
Description of video
Civilians are turning in weapons
to American soldiers in exchange for money. The next scene is
an outline map of Bosnia on the ground, with weapons images disappearing
one a time. Final scene has a child then an adult playing and
happy within the outline of Bosnia.
Text of car bomb
(truck & wind noise)
Description of video
Video camera pans over highway and sand desert showing American
soldiers examining car bomb shrapnel thrown hundreds of feet
by the force of the blast..
Text of soldiers videotaping dust
storm during car bomb investigations
"Hey Munoz, videotape that.
It's a running.
It's a running?
Car is about ready to get engulfed-oh man (chuckles)
It's like a tornado man
Did you tape that? Yeah-it just engulfed a soccer field.
Get over these houses too..."
(Speech is followed by wind noises as the dust storm engulfs
Text of soldiers discussing ordnance
(Some voices are indecipherable).
"That's a tank round. That's a sabot round right there.
Main gun over there and a sabot.
Yup, a sabot.
Sabot right there.
Got two rockets. . . ."
Description of video
A shallow pit maybe 15 to 20 feet long is lined with various
types of explosive devices, mines and shells as soldiers discuss
what they are viewing.
Text of driver conversation as Jenny
Beck-Bos aids the wounded.
(Australian accent) "As you can see we came under fire out
along Bismark, not sure where, but you can see (gunshots begin
and last throughout rest of video) there's a wounded American
soldier on the ground there. There's billowing black smoke out
across that you can see out there-it looks like this truck with
the container on the back, it's a green truck, it's been hit
to the point where I don't think it's going anywhere and pretty
much we're scared (censored). . . ."
Description of video
Large semi-trailer trucks are stopped 3 deep across a highway.
Jenny aids a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. She then
re-enters her cab and drives her wounded passengers away from